Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Iraq Video

FLG saw this video posted on countless sites:


Some, like Andrew Sullivan, see the carnage from the seat of their office chair and cry war crime. While the images certainly are disturbing, if you consider for a moment, rather than looking at a video that tells you ex ante that there are camera people down there, it certainly does look like people are carrying weapons. And at one point I think somebody actually does point an RPG at the helicopter.

Given that and this was in the larger context of a war, I find the behavoir of the soldiers understandable. Sure, it would've been better if they weren't so cavalier about killing the people. However, again, this was in the context of a war and the targets were people they thought were trying to kill them and their comrades. Furthermore, the soldiers weren't out of control bloodthirsty crazies. They requested permission to fire each time. Moreover, the video seems to imply that the soldiers knowingly fired on unarmed civilians and children, but that doesn't seem to be the case at all. Indeed, it seems they truly believed that they were firing on insurgents. Unfortunately, sometimes our troops even shoot their comrades because of mistaken identity.

I guess my point here is that this looks horrible from the comfort of our living room. But war itself, forget war crimes, looks horrible from the comfort of our living room. It looks horrible because it is horrible. That said, while this video depicts a tragic event, but I don't see a war crime by any stretch of the imagination. Unless you define a war crime as anytime a non-combatant gets killed.

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